By royal appointment

Posted in ECB ACO

In January I received a letter from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport saying I had been put forward to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace for my outstanding services to cricket.

Would I be interested in attending? Of course I would.

I sent my reply once my friend Sue confirmed that she could accompany me – needless to say I had offers from four or five very willing substitutes.

A letter came back saying that our names had been put forward to the palace and we would hear in due course if we had been successful.

From February to May we heard nothing until Saturday 5th June when, just as I was getting ready to go to cricket, the envelope came through the letterbox. It was embossed with a crown and inside was the official invitation from the Lord Chamberlain, who had been commanded by Her Majesty, to attend a garden party on 20th July.

Sue had to wait until Tuesday for her invitation.

Now we were in panic mode to find an outfit - the invitation had said ‘day dress with a hat’. Neither of us are fond of hats but, after I had decided on a pale blue beaded jacket and dark blue skirt, we could not put it off any longer.

We went in every shop – some twice – Sue found a fascinator that matched her dress but when I could not find anything we were directed to a very expensive boutique. The third fascinator was perfect – I did not ask the price, just got out the credit card.

I thought that a stay in London for two nights would be a good idea rather than try and get from Somerset and back on the day so with the hotel and train tickets booked and outfits sorted we were ready for the garden party.

The day was lovely, the weather hot and sunny and we arrived at the palace, by taxi, just before 3pm.

On seeing the queues we thought we were in for a long wait but we were escorted by armed police into the garden entrance. We had a look round the garden until it was time for tea. Again we did not have to queue up as someone was instructed to bring tea to us, but first they brought a menu of pictures to choose from.

Being used to cricket teas I quickly picked the cucumber sandwich, salmon roll, raspberry cake and strawberry tart.

The Queen must have been up early to make enough sandwiches for 8,000 people.

The Queen arrived on the terrace at 4pm and everyone stood up – this cut off our view of Her Majesty.

She walked from the terrace to the royal tea tent and was presented to various people on her way through the crowds. Some girls from New Zealand let us stand in front of them so we could see the Queen and one of her ladies-in-waiting asked us where we had come from.

One of the Queen’s guards then told us to wait by the orangery and the royal party would walk past us on their way out.

Princess Anne was the first to leave, then the Queen and Prince Philip. Prince Charles stopped and spoke to Sue and I and shook my hand. Camilla and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were also there.

It is an experience neither of us will forget.

This was taken from Notchers' News Issue 11 (0.9 MB)